This video series from Wales is about the new opera In Parenthesis.
By David Nicholson in Britain:
Superb commemoration of Somme slaughter
Thursday 19th May 2016
Millennium Centre, Cardiff
NEW operas are rare events and even rarer are ones that are as good as In Parenthesis.
Iain Bell’s moving and visceral new opera about the great war, based on Welsh poet David Jones’s epic poem, is an ambitious project, with WNO director David Pountney, Emma Jenkins and David Antrobus’s libretto combining to brilliant effect with Bell’s music.
Through the eyes of tenor Andrew Bidlack’s Private John Ball, we watch a band of Welsh soldiers embark for France, journey to the horror of the trenches and perish in the final bloody battle at Mametz Wood.
Under the assured direction of David Pountney, aided by set designer Robert Innes Hopkins, this is a brilliantly staged production that captures the terror and claustrophobic atmosphere of a troop ship and the trenches of northern France.
But, as ever with the WNO, it is the sublime choral singing that pulls all the strands together. They are a perfect match for the drama of the reckless death of young men, in which Mark Le Brocq as a convincingly gruff sergeant and George Humphreys as a sensitive and caring young lieutenant take the acting honours.
The cafe scene before the men move off to the Somme is a thrilling highlight as the brilliant Welsh song Sosban Fach is sung with all the power at the disposal of the WNO.
The mythic return to the earth of the slaughtered band of Royal Welsh Fusiliers is touchingly realised by the nymphs who haunt Mametz Wood.
It’s a superb rendition by the women’s chorus who, dressed in an abundance of foliage and twigs, return the torn and bloodied bodies of Ball’s fallen comrades to the earth. Their heavenly singing moved many of the opening night audience to tears.
In Parenthesis ticks every box when it comes to music, acting and production values, though whether Bell’s opera will still be performed in years to come is the real acid test.
But this is a production to go and see now. As a sensitive, moving and visceral portrayal of the horror of war, it is a superb evening of pure theatre.
At the Millennium Centre until June 3, then tours until July 1, box office: wno.org.uk.